Much news about the environment in 2017 focused on controversies over Trumpadministration actions, such as proposals to promote more use of coal and budget cuts at relevant federal agencies. At the same time, however, many scholars across the U.S. are pursuing innovations that could help create a more sustainable world. Here we spotlight five examples from our 2017 archives.
Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, has permanently suspended oil operations in its ocean waters. The legislation marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans—and all the life within—from oil exploration and extraction.
The new suspension of oil activity marks an enormous win for the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, the wildlife that live there, and the hundreds of thousands of Belizeans who rely on the reef for survival.
In order to address the harmful impacts of meat on human health and the environment, several different organizations have proposed that the U.S. government impose a tax on one of America’s favorite indulgences—meat.
Crops are in across the U.S. farm belt, with record harvests filling farmers’ silos with grain and their hearts with pride. Yet persistent and punishingly low prices for those crops leave them no better off for their efforts. Net farm income this year is about half what it was in 2013.
U.S. farmers are not alone. The world is experiencing what Reuters called a “global grain glut,” with many staple food crops filling silos from Brazil to the Ukraine. Crop prices have fallen dramatically, with serious repercussions for farmers, particularly poor farmers in developing countries.
This is an academic study.
Climate models provide the principal means of projecting global warming over the remainder of the twenty-first century but modelled estimates of warming vary by a factor of approximately two even under the same radiative forcing scenarios. Across-model relationships between currently observable attributes of the climate system and the simulated magnitude of future warming have the potential to inform projections. Here we show that robust across-model relationships exist between the global spatial patterns of several fundamental attributes of Earth’s top-of-atmosphere energy budget and the magnitude of projected global warming. When we constrain the model projections with observations, we obtain greater means and narrower ranges of future global warming across the major radiative forcing scenarios, in general. In particular, we find that the observationally informed warming projection for the end of the twenty-first century for the steepest radiative forcing scenario is about 15 per cent warmer (+0.5 degrees Celsius) with a reduction of about a third in the two-standard-deviation spread (−1.2 degrees Celsius) relative to the raw model projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Our results suggest that achieving any given global temperature stabilization target will require steeper greenhouse gas emissions reductions than previously calculated.
and summary here:
New research shows emissions must go down every year starting in 2020 to prevent dangerous warming of planet
If assembled, innovations from three spheres of economic activity – those using natural ecosystems, social and collaborative innovation, and efficient technology – enter into symbiotic relationship.
In these times of increasing uncertainty and volatility we must remain adaptive and responsive to the world’s most significant challenges in order to achieve global prosperity.
One solution is a circular economic system that restructures finance and business to prioritize sustainability and accessibility across our global resource supply chain, thereby guaranteeing livelihoods around the world. This regenerative system will be formed by a new era of social and cultural awareness, one that truly appreciates the interconnectedness of mankind’s socioeconomic systems and our surrounding environment. The main challenge will be to ensure that the global system aligns with the fundamental and universal principles of life.
Evidence keeps mounting that, in stressful times, there is much to gain by surrounding yourself with plants and trees.